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Iowa City School Board moves forward with funding plan

BY LAUREN COFFEY AND BRIANNA JETT | OCTOBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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For the past few months, the Iowa City School District has grappled with the decision of how to allocate funds. Now, it has decided.

At a School Board work session Thursday night, Superintendent Steve Murley officially gave his recommendation for the School Board to adopt the SAVE — Security for Advanced Vision of Education— repurpose statement plan.

Originally, the district followed a system in which funds were allocated to the district, with the limitations of saving $20 million to renovate elementary schools and $32 million for the construction of a new high school. The board was torn between choosing one option over the other.

With the SAVE program, school-infrastructure local-option funds will all be placed in the state’s hands and allocated based on the number of students in each district — receiving $870 per pupil. With the district’s student population, the district would receive $10.6 million in fiscal 2013 and at the same time be able to borrow up to $100 million until 2029.

The board, which had four members in attendance and two on the phone, unanimously agreed to adopt this plan, with further discussion at the next board meeting, Oct. 16.

“I’m just really happy with the board,” Murley said. “Everyone’s here; they know how important it is.”

The SAVE program gives the School Board the ability to borrow from future local-option funds until 2029.

The current pay-as-you-go plan expires in 2017, at which point the state will adopt the SAVE plan. Murley and the School Board decided to adopt the plan now instead of waiting.

The board now faces the decision of officially voting on the plan at the Oct. 16 board meeting, then bringing it to the Iowa City community to vote on in December, or deciding to wait until December and have the public vote on the plan in February.

Officials said there are pros and cons to waiting to vote, with the board being torn on which direction to choose.

Officials want the plan set by February in order to have the funds for summer construction programs.

“I am torn,” School Board President Marla Swesey said. “I haven’t made the complete decision yet.

It does get confusing for some people, and we don’t want that confusion to interfere with our purpose for education.”

Some were concerned about the public’s understanding of the plan, but others believe the December deadline is enough time.

“I would lean more toward the December timeline,” board member Tuyet Durau said. “I have a lot of confidence in this administration — I was very happy to see a communications plan set forward.”

Even though the date has not been set in which community members can vote on the plan, the entire board agrees to begin educating the public immediately — stressing this will not bring a rise in taxes.


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